Thursday, 28 February 2019

Defend Williamson, Deselect Watson

Following pressure from the Blair-rights and the Tory media, the Corbyn leadership of the Labour Party again showed they have the backbone of a jellyfish, by suspending Chris Williamson from the Labour Party, on the grounds of “bringing the party into disrepute”, after he argued that the party had been far too apologetic in its response to claims that the party is “institutionally anti-Semitic”. Now, you can agree with Williamson on this point or disagree, but the fact of an expression of opinion one way or the other, most obviously, is not any kind of indication of anti-Semitism! What next, are we to find that Blair-rights attack Corbyn for not singing the National Anthem, and he responds by holding a patriotic choir service, and anyone who criticises his apologetic response is then hauled up on charges of bringing the party into disrepute for being “institutionally anti-Monarchist”

Some have criticised Williamson for his shaky politics, not just in relation to an uncritical, or even supportive attitude to others accused of anti-Semitism, but also in relation to his record as Leader of Derby Council. Fair enough, let's debate those issues, and hold Williamson to account for them, but typical of much of the way the LP machinery operates, instead of doing that, the real issues are replaced by other vague charges – the most obvious of which is the charge of “bringing the party into disrepute” - which is what Williamson is currently being charged with. That is more typical of the kind of charges that were used in Stalin's show trials, which demanded those so charged made full recantations before they were shot, or with McCarthy's witch-hunts in the US, in the 1950's. 

Suppose someone was brought before a court, and the police in giving their evidence were to say, 

“Well you're honour, we don't have much of a case in relation to the current charges, and we don't know exactly what law the accused should be charged with having broken, but we do know he's a wrong'un, because we have evidence that he is responsible for a load of stuff that we never charged him with in the past. So, forget about what he's actually charged with now, and just send him down on the basis that he did all this other stuff in the past.” 

Every decent liberal, let alone socialist would insist that not only the case be dropped, but that the police themselves be charged with malicious prosecution! Yet that is essentially the case in relation to Williamson.  It is the kind of procedure used by the police in the past, for example against The Shrewsbury Two, who were not charged with committing any particular criminal act, but with "Conspiracy".

And, we know that those that have pressed this case against him, just as with those that insisted that Hatton's LP membership should again be suspended, for a 2012 tweet in which he criticised the Israeli government, really have nothing to do with anti-Semitism, but for whom anti-Semitism is merely a convenient hook on which to hang their campaign against the left in the party, as they systematically seek to discredit that party, and to undermine Corbyn's leadership of it. And, the reason they have been so keen to go for Williamson is precisely because, he is right in what he says, in this context. Corbyn and the leadership have brought this situation on themselves, in which Corbyn the epitome of ant-racism, and opponent of bigotry is accused of bigotry and racism to such a degree now, that the Tory media take it as an article of faith that they do not even have to justify. We have the ridiculous spectacle in which the Labour Party which has always been the party that fought racism and anti-Semitism is branded as “institutionally racist”, and that meme is repeated ad nauseum each day on TV and in the Tory press, with an endless stream of Blair-rights only too eager to provide support for such attacks on the party, whilst the Tory party, whose virulent racism and xenophobia, is allowed to continue unchallenged. We have Corbyn the opponent of all kinds of bigotry branded a bigot, whilst we have Blair-rights, like Rachel Reeves, appearing on TV to tell us that the actual anti-Semite, inveterate racist, colonialist, and vile white supremacist, Churchill, is “one of my heroes.”!!!! 

This really is the world of Orwell's 1984, and of Newspeak. 

If Williamson is guilty of anti-Semitism, for his comments in relation to Giliad Atzmon, and so on, then he should have been reported by those that make those charges to the party's disciplinary committee, and not on the current charge of “bringing the party into disrepute”. If Williamson was guilty of bad politics by supporting PFI schemes, as leader of Derby Council, then socialists might decide not to select him as a Councillor or as an MP. In fact, LP members in Derby did decide to select him to fight the 2017 election, which he won. So it seems those on the ground were not so offended by his performance as Council Leader. Moreover, it would hardly be a reason to remove him from the party, or if it was, then nearly all of the PLP would have to be kicked out for supporting PFI during the Blair/Brown years! 

Part of the charges made against Corbyn and others is that they have shared platforms with people who are anti-Semites, usually this is in relation to events around the question of Palestine. As someone who has opposed idiot anti-imperialism for over thirty years, I am the first to say that the attitude of certain sections of the Left, in that regard, has been unprincipled and strategically damaging. It has put “anti-imperialism” ahead of being “pro-socialist”. Moreover, it has given the opponents of the Left an obvious lever to use against it. But, it's obvious that for those opponents of the Left, it is merely an opportunistic device around which to frame their attacks. 

Where, for example, do we see similar responses to the fact that members of Labour Friends of Israel, have regular meetings with representatives of the Israeli government, even as that government carries out murderous attacks on Palestinians, and indeed there appears to be a revolving door between BICOM, and the PLP, with former members of the Israeli state holding permanent jobs in that organisation. And, where do we see the same kind of comments about the fact that representatives of the Israeli state, in some of these meetings offered up £1 million, to British MP's to help them not just promote and apologise for the Israeli state, but to try to get some British MP's critical of Israel removed from parliament?   Had this been footage of a Corbyn supporter meeting with representatives of Putin's Russia, the video would have been played endlessly on TV.

In the US, Donald Trump is under investigation, in part for collusion with Putin's vile regime in Russia. Trump, of course, has good relations with the regime of Netanyahu. And, Netanyahu's regime is itself about to go into coalition with an openly neo-Nazi, party in Israel, to try to stay in office. But, instead of criticising those Labour MP's that have lined up with this basket of undesirables, we see people like Tom Watson, instead trying to shut down anyone that dares to offer any criticism, or even any questioning of their activities. This is a truly bizarre situation. In the US, where Trump has tried to do that, he has opened himself up to potential charges of attempts to pervert the course of justice. 

And, all the while, whilst socialists in the party, who support Corbyn, are coming under sustained attack from the rump of the Right, in the PLP, whose figurehead Watson has become, we see that same rump, which should have lost all influence long ago, after the party turned decisively against them, with the election of Corbyn as Leader, and following their abortive coup attempts, is once again organising to undermine Corbyn, and to institute another palace coup. Watson is openly organising against Corbyn, and setting up his own parallel Shadow Cabinet. For students of history, and of coups and revolutions, he is creating a condition of dual power inside the PLP, and all students of such situations know they are always short lived, with one power or the other asserting its dominance. Watson is currently asserting such dominance, manifest in his demands that Corbyn do as Watson and the Right of the party bid him to do, such as the demand that Williamson be suspended. 

Watson showed the kind of party it will be if he is allowed to succeed, with his comment, yesterday, that, if it was in his gift, he would have withdrawn the whip from Williamson already. Hours later, he showed it effectively was in his gift!  In other words, true to his own Stalinist training, he would ignore all niceties of natural justice and due process, and go straight to being judge, jury and executioner. That is the same kind of regime that existed, in the 1980's, under Kinnock, when the party was gutted. It is the situation the Blair-rights and soft lefts would like to return to, whereby the LP is only the PLP, and the membership's role is only to act as obedient drones, wheeled out at election times to ensure their betters get to continue in their seats, and draw their large salaries, before they move on to a cushy job in some large company, or a seat in the Lords. 

Unlike, the right-wing witch hunters, and their useful idiots, such as the AWL, we should not, however, demand that Watson be expelled from the party, as they do in relation to Williamson, and others who stand up to the onslaught from the Right, and the Tory media. The LP is a broad church. Its 600,000 members – may be now only 500,000 given Corbyn's failure to take a principled stand over Brexit, and his weak-kneed leadership in the face of the attacks from the Right – are overwhelmingly on the Left. The battle of democracy, inside the LP, has essentially been won, but the membership has failed to realise it, and continues, through inertia to allow the party leadership, and party bureaucracy to operate in opposition to it. 

It shows that, having won the battle of democracy, the membership needs to bring appearance and reality into alignment, a political revolution, within the party itself. It means that the membership, from top to bottom, must insist on further democratisation of the party. We need to bring the old political leadership to account. There should be a demand for an immediate emergency conference. That conference should: 

  • Set the party's policy as being clearly to oppose Brexit
  • Demand mandatory reselection of MP's
  • Scrap the PLP's role in determining the Party Leader and Deputy Leader
  • Demand that the Shadow Cabinet/Cabinet be elected by all party members
  • Institute an election for Deputy Leader given that Watson is bringing the party into disrepute by his constant manoeuvring against Corbyn
  • Demand that the Party's Disciplinary Committees be directly elected by and from the party's rank and file membership. 
Watson has no place being Deputy Leader, but he should be allowed to remain in the party if he so chooses. His party members should consider carefully whether they want him to remain as their parliamentary candidate, given his role in undermining Corbyn. 

The rank and file members of the party need to ensure that a programme of rapid training of its members is undertaken to equip them with the skills to become councillors and MP's, so that we can quickly have a pool of good candidates to replace the current sorry bunch of careerists, Blair-rights, soft-lefts and appeasers.  

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Chapter 20 - Part 69

Every commodity, as an exchange-value, represents this certain quantity of general abstract labour, and can be exchanged proportionately for any other commodity, on that basis. In being exchanged for money, the value of the commodity is separated from it, and metamorphosed into the body of the money commodity, whose only use value is to perform this function, to become exchange-value incarnate, the physical manifestation of a quantity of social labour-time, a store of value, which can thereby be divided up, bundled together, and repeatedly passed on from hand to hand, in one exchange after another. But, as Marx discussed in “A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy”, this also thereby poses the question of what it is exactly that represents this physical manifestation of this social labour-time. A 1 gram gold coin may represent 10 hours of social labour-time, and repeatedly be exchanged for commodities of equal value, on that basis. Yet, the reality is that one coin will actually contain less gold than another, whilst continuing to function as though it were full weight. 

This idea that the value of a commodity is something that is not embodied within, or intrinsic to it, is alien to subjectivists, such as Bailey or the neoclassical economists. For them, the value of a commodity is intrinsic to it, and inseparable from it. For them, its value is only ever its exchange-value, as manifest in the proportions in which it exchanges for other commodities, which is nothing more than a reflection of the changing preferences of consumers for the different utility that each commodity provides. 

“This shows, therefore, that the “verbal observer” understands as little of the value and the nature of money as Bailey, since both regard the independent existence of value as a scholastic invention of economists. This independent existence becomes even more evident in capital, which, in one of its aspects, can be called value in process—and since value only exists independently in money, it can accordingly be called money in process, as it goes through a series of processes in which it preserves itself, departs from itself, and returns to itself increased in volume.” (p 137) 

Ricardo, like Smith, Malthus, Franklin and others has an embodied labour theory of value, which fails to distinguish between the specific, individual, concrete labour embodied in commodities, and the general abstract, social labour, which is the essence of value, and of which commodities are merely representatives. Ricardo, thereby, fails to recognise the contradiction between these two aspects of labour, and the process by which it is resolved by the reduction of all labour to this general, social labour in money. 

“Therefore he has not understood that the development of money is connected with the nature of value and with the determination of this value by labour-time.” (p 137) 

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

The Right's Attack On Williamson Exposes Their Game

Last week, the Right disgracefully got Derek Hatton's Labour Party membership suspended once again. It was clear that the real reason for the suspension was the attack on Hatton's previous supposedly left-wing credentials as a supporter of Militant, and his stand as Liverpool City Council Leader, against Tory austerity measures, in the 1980's, under Thatcher. But, rather than admit that, the party bureaucracy used the current meme around anti-Semitism, to drag up a tweet from 2012, in which Hatton had criticised the Israeli government, for its murderous attacks, once again on Palestinian civilians. The Labour leadership having continually appeased the right of the party, and the Tory media in these attacks on the party and party members, who support Corbyn, thereby simply encouraged them to come back for more. 

With a number of Blair-right MP's having defected only days before, and with memories still fresh of the attempts of Blair-right members to launch a coup against Corbyn in 2016 and 2017, Tom Watson saw fit to press home that assault once more. He openly declared that he was setting himself as an alternative Leader to Corbyn in parliament, with the proposal to establish a faction of “social-democrats” - as though Corbyn himself is not a social-democrat! - demanding that more right-wing Labour MP's be included in the Shadow Cabinet, so as to isolate Corbyn even more than he is, and with added calls for Corbyn to show his capitulation, by yet further draconian measures against any party members that the right and the Tory media declare to be beyond the pale. It was only a matter of time before the Labour Right, the Blair-rights, and that Tory media, having smelled blood, came after targets closer to Corbyn himself. 

Now they have, with their demands that Chris Williamson be suspended, for having made comments that by no stretch of the imagination could be described as “Anti-Semitic”. Indeed, in calling for his suspension, the right, and Blair-rights have not cited “Anti-Semitism”, but the previously used catch-all term of “bringing the party into disrepute”. Well on that basis, all of those right-wing, Blair-right and soft left MP's that have continually sniped against Corbyn's leadership, tried to undermine party democracy, by their ill-conceived coups and motions of no confidence in him, and their willingness to rush to the Tory media, including the worst sections of that media, such as the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail, should have been suspended long ago! 

Williamson, has stood up to the attacks of the Blair-rights, and the Tory media far more than has Corbyn's leadership team. Its no wonder that Corbyn's enemies have now come for him, therefore. If they can get Corbyn to throw him under the bus, they know that the game is nearly up for Corbyn's leadership. At a meeting of Momentum in Sheffield, Williamson, quite rightly, said that the party had been far too apologetic, in the face of attacks by the Tory media, and other enemies of the party over he question of anti-Semitism within the party. There is nothing anti-Semitic in what Williamson said. In fact, he talks in that speech about anti-Semitism being “a scourge”, and welcomes the fact that the Labour Party had done more, under Corbyn, to counter it, not only than any other party, but also than had the Labour Party in the past. He talks about the ridiculous situation, therefore, whereby the Labour Party, which has a proud record of fighting racism, including anti-Semitism, should find itself being branded by its enemies as being racist/anti-Semitic. 

He is right. Labour Party members, especially those on the left, such as Corbyn, have a proud record of fighting racism and bigotry of all kinds. That is in sharp distinction to the Tories or the Labour Right. Indeed, those on the left who have physically confronted the fascists and hard core racists, in order to defend ethnic communities, including Jewish communities, have often found themselves being criticised by the Tories and the Labour Right for having done so, in similar terms to the way Trump has criticised anti-fascists in the US. The attitude of the Tories and the Labour Right has usually been to tell socialists to ignore the fascists and racists, and that they would then “go away”. But, of course, they never do. 

The Labour Right insisted that including all of the examples attached to the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, would not prevent criticism of the actions of the Israeli government and state, but the suspension of Hatton, for doing precisely that, shows that they lied. And, if we look at the expulsion of other LP members that support Corbyn, including Jewish members, we find that it is precisely on this basis of criticism of Israel that their expulsion has initially been justified, even though, often that justification is dropped, and some other trumped up charge, such as the catch all “bringing the party into disrepute”. 

The Jewish members of the Labour Party, like Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein were expelled on that basis. The party bureaucrats attempted to expel Moshe Machover too, but after a large scale revolt by party members in his support, and with lack of any evidence against him, the party had to rescind its decision.  Then we had the deplorable case of Marc Wadsworth, a long time anti-racist campaigner who was heavily involved in the Stephen Lawrence campaign who was expelled for having pointed out that some of those in the audience, criticising Corbyn, at the launch of the Chakrabarti Report, had minutes earlier, been seen in conversation with reporters from the party's enemies at the Daily Telegraph.  It was claimed that this statement was "anti-Semitic", because the person involved was Ruth Smeeth MP, a Jewish Labour MP!   In fact, Wadsworth, like most of us, did not even know who Smeeth was, let alone that she was Jewish!

If we look at the facts of what Williamson was saying it is this. Firstly, he does not deny that anti-Semitism exists, or that it is a “scourge” that has to be fought. Nor does he deny that anti-Semitism exists in the Labour Party, and has to be dealt with. But, the facts, also are these, a large number of the complaints about anti-Semitism, brought to the attention of the party apparatus, were against people who are not even LP members. In fact, that was the case for about 40% of the complaints that were lodged! In fact, the Labour Right and the Tory media are always keen to talk about incidents of anti-Semitism, and bullying against Jewish MP's, and to also talk about the fact that some of those responsible have been sent to gaol. But, they never point out that in almost every case, if not every case, those convicted, far from being members of the LP, let alone Corbyn supporters, have all been supporters of far right organisations!!! 

Of the 600 further charges brought to the attention of the party, more than 200 were found not to have any evidence to substantiate them. That left 400 cases that has led to 96 members being suspended, 146 being given a written warning, and 211 being given notice of investigation into their behaviour. Even assuming that all of these 400 cases were to show that those involved were guilty of some form of anti-Semitism, it means that to quantify the extent of the problem inside the Labour Party, it amounts to 0.0066, of the total party membership! 

So, who is it that is actually bringing the party into disrepute? Is it those that rush to the party's enemies in the Tory media to claim that this 0.0066 of the party, found guilty of some form of anti-Semitism, shows that the party is “institutionally racist/anti-Semitic”, or is it those that challenge that hysterical narrative, used by enemies of the party for their own political ends, of attacking Corbyn, and his supporters? I think it is only necessary to ask the question to know the answer. Those that bring the party into disrepute are not those like Williamson, who stand up to the unprincipled and lying attacks of the Tories, Blair-rights and Labour Right, but is precisely all those inside the PLP, and other spheres of its officialdom, that have continually tried to undermine Corbyn for the last three years, and to overturn the democratic decisions of party members. 

They are not even trying to argue for Williamson's suspension on the basis that what he said was in some way anti-Semitic. They have exposed their true game, because what they are actually attacking Williamson for, is simply expressing an opinion, on the leadership's failure to stand up to the attacks of the party's enemies. Those enemies are clearly gearing up for another such assault. Watson is their putative PLP Leader, preparing to assume that position, probably following any General Election that might happen in the near future, or else before that, if May delays in calling it. 

Williamson was absolutely right, Corbyn and the Labour Leadership have been spineless in standing up for their principles, and opposing the attacks of the Labour Right and Blair-rights over the last three years, and they have thereby encouraged them to press ahead further on each occasions, as they seek to isolate him, and undermine his position, by getting him to continually fail to stand in solidarity with his own supporters inside the party. If they get away with this, and the fact that Williamson has obviously be leaned on by the leadership to make some kind of apology himself does not bode well, then the days of the Corbyn leadership are numbered. 

The fact that already there has been a widespread Twitter campaign by party members in support of Williamson, is a good sign under. Members should flood the NEC with motions from branches, CLP's, and trades unions in defence of Williamson, against the witch-hunt of Corbyn supporting members, and attacking the Blair-right splitters and fifth columnists in the party that seek to attack the party at every opportunity. 

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Chapter 20 - Part 68

When I expend immediate labour to collect food, the moment I consume the food, I extinguish the use value, and along with it the value. or, more correctly, the use value, and value assumes a different form, as it reproduces my labour-power.  But, when I use the chair I only extinguish a part of its use value, and a part of its value. All of the value remaining in the chair represents labour that I do not immediately have to expend, providing the use value of the chair. In that sense, it is like a revenue; it is additional labour-time I can expend on immediately providing for my consumption needs.  Because I only produce products for my own consumption, the only value that matters is their individual value, i.e. the value created by my own labour in their production, because it is only this labour that is diverted from some other use.

If, on the other hand, I produce the chair as a commodity, it has no use value for me, but it still has value, and as a commodity this value now takes the form of exchange-value, i.e. the quantity of some other commodity or money I can obtain in exchange for it. Now this exchange-value is based not upon the individual value, of the chair, but its social value, the average labour of all producers required for the production of chairs of this type.  When I exchange or sell the chair, therefore, its use value passes out of my hands, but its exchange-value remains in my hands, only now transformed into the shape of some other commodity or money. If I consume the use value of a product of any labour, its value is also thereby extinguished. To use a phrase “You cannot have your cake and eat it.” Or, if the cake were produced by me as a commodity, you cannot eat your cake and sell it. If I spend 10 hours making a cake, the cake may have use value for me, and so long as the cake is in my possession it represents a value; it represents 10 hours of labour, I do not need to expend producing a cake to meet my consumption needs. 

But, precisely because the cake has value, I can alienate its use value, whilst retaining its value. In this process of alienation, the value of the cake is divorced from its use value. The value, in the form of exchange-value, takes on an independent existence, and remains in my possession, in the form either of some other use value, or money. It's clear, therefore, that if the value of the commodity can be divorced from the use value then this value cannot be something that is intrinsic to or embodied in the commodity. The value is nothing more than the representation of a quantity of labour-time

I expended 10 hours of labour-time on producing the cake, and by alienating its use value, rather than consuming it, I detached the value from the use value, gave the value an independent existence, which then, in the process, takes on some material form. The buyer of the cake gave me either money or some other commodity with a value of 10 hours of labour. It was then as though they had actually given me, in exchange, not, say, a chair, or a gold coin, but 10 hours of labour. Yet, as described above, this cannot be an exchange of 10 hours of my cake producing labour for 10 hours of their chair producing labour, but only an exchange of equivalent amounts of general abstract labour. In the case of a payment of money, that becomes clear, because the money itself can only be a representative of that general abstract labour, even though the value of the gold itself is the product of a specific concrete form of labour. The gold producing labour thereby automatically becomes a proxy for that general abstract labour. 

When the buyer of my cake consumes it, they thereby extinguish its use value, and along with it its value. In order to enjoy the use value, once more, they have to again expend 10 hours of labour, create 10 hours of new value, and thereby exchange it, once more for another of my cakes. In effect, they had not extinguished the 10 hours value that I had created in producing the cake, but the 10 hours value they had themselves created in the chair, a value that they also released by alienating the use value of the chair in selling it to me, in return for the cake. For my part, the 10 hours of value I created still exists, but has now taken the form of the chair. I might consume the use value of the chair, and thereby its value, by using the chair, over a period, until its worn out. Alternatively, I might once more alienate the use value of the chair, and thereby liberate the 10 hours of value from it. I might exchange the chair for a suit, with a value of 10 hours labour. Until such time as I consume the use value, in which the value is represented, the 10 hours of value that I created, or otherwise possessed, remains in my possession, even though it may take on a multitude of different garbs. 

In this sense, as also described in Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, every commodity, as a representative of value, is money, because it can be exchanged for other commodities of equal value. The difference with the money commodity, such as gold coins, is that they are not exchanged as commodities intended for consumption. My cake, the chair I obtain in exchange for it, etc. are all commodities intended for consumption, at some point. But, that is not the case with the money commodity itself, in so far as it is used as money. Gold as a commodity can also be consumed, for example, in the production of jewellery, and it is this fact that enables it to act as money in the first place. But, in so far as it takes on the role of money, minted into coins, it gives up that function. It is only intended to act in this specific role as money, as a general commodity that acts as the universal equivalent form of value, continually passed from one hand to another. In this sense, it gives up its own specific use value – for example for use in jewellery – in order to take on the use value only of money. 

“A commodity may be sold either below or above its value. This is purely a matter of the magnitude of its value. But whenever a commodity is sold, transformed into money, its exchange-value acquires an independent existence, separate from its use-value. The commodity now exists only as a certain quantity of social labour-time, and it proves that it is such by being directly exchangeable for any commodity whatsoever and convertible (in proportion to its magnitude) into any use-value whatsoever.” (p 136)

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Chapter 20 - Part 67

The individual concrete labour that goes into the production of any use value is thereby distinct. The tailoring labour of worker A that goes into one pair of trousers they produce, is different in quality and quantity from the tailoring labour they embody in some other pair of trousers. It is also different in quality and quantity to the tailoring labour of worker B. Moreover, the tailoring labour, in aggregate, is distinct from the concrete labour, in aggregate, of all other types of worker. It is only when all of this individual concrete labour is alienated, and is aggregated into one mass of general labour that it turns into its opposite, general, abstract social labour

“Thus the labour of individuals has to be directly represented as its opposite, social labour; this transformed labour is, as its immediate opposite, abstract, general labour, which is therefore represented in a general equivalent, only by its alienation does individual labour manifest itself as its opposite. The commodity, however, must have this general expression before it is alienated. This necessity to express individual labour as general labour is equivalent to the necessity of expressing a commodity as money. The commodity receives this expression insofar as the money serves as a measure and expresses the value of the commodity in its price. It is only through sale, through its real transformation into money, that the commodity acquires its adequate expression as exchange-value. The first transformation is merely a theoretical process, the second is a real one.” (p 136) 

Suppose I produce a chair intended for my own use; in other words, as a product rather than as a commodity. This chair is both a use value, and a store of value. As a use value, it represents wealth. It is something that provides me with utility. But, the chair, as a product of my labour, also represents a quantity of value. On condition that the chair is not used, so as to suffer any diminution of its use value, by wear and tear, and so long as it suffers no depreciation, as a result of exposure to the elements, over time, it will continue to be a store of value. If it took 10 hours of my labour to produce, it will continue to represent 10 hours of value. But, of course, a chair, to provide me with utility is intended to be used, and, as it is used, it will gradually lose some of its use value. Its value is rather like a revenue. In other words, although, unlike the immediate labour I might undertake to collect food, to consume, the chair represents past labour, its use value is consumed piecemeal. 

Monday, 25 February 2019

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Chapter 20 - Part 66

The value of a product is not contingent upon it being a commodity, only on it being the product of labour. The value of a commodity is similarly not contingent on it being exchanged, only on it being a product. The exchange value of a commodity, by contrast, is contingent on its being a product, and so of it being first a value. Only by first being a product, and so being a bearer of value, can that value be compared and equated with the values of other commodities so as to determine an exchange-value. Commodity exchange does not bring value into existence, it only determines its specific historical form as exchange-value, it makes value expressed on the face of the commodity, as Marx puts it in Capital I, as its exchange-value/price

It is impossible for a commodity, which acts as the measure of value, to itself be invariable in value, and nor is it necessary for it to be so. The search for such an invariable measure of value was simply a quixotic search for a definition of value itself. That search for a definition of value could not be found in some commodity, which is why Smith's theory of value came aground, in confusing labour with the commodity labour-power. Yet, Smith had in front of him the answer all along. 

“This was labour-time, social labour, as it presents itself specifically in commodity production. A quantity of labour has no value, is not a commodity, but is that which transforms commodities into values, it is their common substance; as manifestations of it commodities are qualitatively equal and only quantitatively different. They [appear] as expressions of definite quantities of social labour-time.” (p 135) 

Suppose gold were such a commodity, whose value was invariable, Marx says. That would not theoretically prevent gold from sharing with every other commodity the same quality of being a bearer of a certain quantity of value, which is to say that it is the product of social labour, and representative of a certain quantity of social labour-time. If that were the case, then changes in the gold price of commodities would only ever be a reflection of the changing values of these other commodities, i.e. changes in the amount of social labour-time these commodities represent. Firstly, however, in measuring this quantity of social labour-time that these different commodities represent, the actual concrete labour used in their production would have to be reduced to an amount of average abstract simple labour, in the same way that it is not possible to measure the comparative lengths of objects using different real human feet, but only by using an average, abstract foot. 

“The labour must be qualitatively equal so that its differences become merely quantitative, merely differences of magnitude.” (p 135) 

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Chapter 20 - Part 65

Marx says of Bailey

“His book has only one positive merit—that he was the first to give a more accurate definition of the measure of value, that is, in fact, of one of the functions of money, or money in a particular, determinate form.” (p 133) 

Adam Smith sought some invariable measure of value. He uncovered value as labour, but conflated labour as the essence of value with the commodity labour-power. Hence arise all of the contradictions from attempting to measure values in terms of wages, or his use of corn as a proxy for wages, in measuring values. The other confusion here, which is continued by Ricardo, is to equate value with exchange-value

The invariable measure of value is labour-time. But labour itself has no value, and is not a commodity. It is the attempt to embody the concept of value in a commodity, which acts as a measure of value, which leads to the contradiction, because every commodity is itself a representative of value, of social labour-time, but, as such, its value, relative to every other commodity is constantly changing. Money, as such a commodity, is not an invariable measure of value, because its own value constantly changes, as a result of changes in social productivity. 

Not only is it not necessary that this measure of value be invariable, but, on the contrary, as Marx had established in “A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy”, it is inevitable that it must not be invariable. It must, like every other commodity share that same quality of being a bearer of value, a product of labour. And, because the value of every product, and consequently every commodity, changes, as a result of changes in social productivity, so too must the value of the money commodity. But, it is for this very reason that this general commodity can act as a measure of value for every other commodity. Because each commodity shares with every other commodity the quality of being bearers of value/representative of labour-time, each can be compared with, irrespective of their use value, on the basis of this single common equality of value. They only vary from one another on the basis of the quantity of this value that each represents. 

The money commodity, thereby, measures these relative differences in this quantity of value. If a gram of gold is equal in value to 10 metres of linen, or to 10 litres of wine, this does not tell us what the value of gold, linen or wine is. But, it does tell us what the value of linen and wine is relative to gold, and in the process it also tells us what the value of wine is relative to linen. If the value of gold falls by 50%, this means that 1 gram of gold has the same value as 5 metres of linen or 5 litres of wine, but its relation to both linen and wine has thereby changed in the same proportion. As a measure of the relative value of linen to wine, therefore, nothing has changed. 

This is why the idea that value, or the law of value, arises only with commodity production and exchange, or worse, only with capitalism, is preposterous. In order to have commodities, it is first necessary to have products, which start to become exchanged by communities, and thereby get turned into commodities. And, for the basis of the exchange of these commodities to be increasingly determined by their relative values, rather than by chance, it is first necessary that each of these products/commodities are values, or else there is nothing they have in common that can be compared, so as to calculate their relative values/exchange-values! Value is both historically and logically prior to exchange-value, and exchange-value, along with commodity production and exchange, goes back, as Engels describes, at least 7-10,000 years. 

“... for commodities to express their exchange-value independently in money, in a third commodity, the exclusive commodity, the values of commodities must already be presupposed. Now the point is merely to compare them quantitatively. A homogeneity which makes them the same—makes them values—which as values makes them qualitatively equal, is already presupposed in order that their value and their differences in value can be represented in this way. For example, if all commodities express their value in gold, then this expression in gold, their gold price, their equation with gold, is an equation on the basis of which it is possible to elucidate and compute their value relation to one another, for they are now expressed as different quantities of gold and in this way the commodities are represented in their prices, as comparable magnitudes of the same common denominator. 

But in order to be represented in this way, the commodities must already be identical as values. Otherwise it would be impossible to solve the problem of expressing the value of each commodity in gold, if commodity and gold or any two commodities as values were not representations of the same substance, capable of being expressed in one another. In other words, this presupposition is already implicit in the problem itself. Commodities are already presumed as values, as values distinct from their use-values, before the question of representing this value in a special commodity can arise. In order that two quantities of different use-values can be equated as equivalents, it is already presumed that they are equal to a third, that they are qualitatively equal and only constitute different quantitative expressions of this qualitative equality.” (p 134) 

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Chapter 20 - Part 64

Marx cites, dismissively, the comment of the author of the “Observations”

““Value, or valeur in French, is not only used absolutely instead of relatively as a quality of things, but is even used by some […] as […] a measurable commodity, ‘Possessing a value’, ‘transferring a portion of value’” (a very important factor with regard to fixed capital), “‘the sum, or totality of values’ (valeurs), etc. I do not know what this means” (op. cit., p. 57).” (p 131) 

Value expressed in money must always be a relative expression of value, precisely because money is a commodity, the general commodity, and so itself an expression of exchange-value

“Our author has made it abundantly clear that he does “not know” this. This is shown by the kind of criticism which would like to talk out of existence the difficulties innate in the contradictory functions of things themselves, by declaring them to be the result of reflections or of conflicting definitions.” (p 132) 

Marx cites further from the “Observations”, in this vein. 

““‘The relative value of two things’ […] is open to two meanings: the rate at which two things exchange or would exchange with each other, or the comparative portions of a third for which each exchanges or would exchange” (op. cit., p. 53).” (p 132) 

For subjectivists, there is no objective value. So, as is stated, here, whatever rate at which commodities exchange is automatically their value. One of the famous examples of this is the water diamond paradox, that I have discussed elsewhere. In it, the subjectivist argument is given in a hypothetical situation, whereby someone in possession of a diamond, having trudged through the desert, is prepared to exchange it for a glass of water, because, at that particular point, the water provides greater utility to them than the diamond. I have set out the fallacies in this example already. Marx, in describing the development of trade, and of the product into the commodity, along with value into exchange-value, noted that initial exchanges were based upon accident and chance rather than value. But, it is precisely the extension of trade, and the role of competition that brings to an end that situation, and particularly the role of merchants who have a vested interest in measuring values, in order to establish exchange-values, in order thereby to make profits

“The rate at which two commodities exchange does not determine their value, but their value determines the rate at which they exchange. If value were nothing more than the quantity of commodities for which commodity A is accidentally exchanged, how is it possible to express the value of A in terms of commodity B, or C, etc.? Because then, since there is no immanent measure common to the two commodities, the value of A could not be expressed in terms of B before it had been exchanged against B.” (p 132) 

As discussed earlier, the subjectivists have gone to great lengths to try to identify this third term, as nothing more than utility, and when, as with the utility of diamonds as opposed to water, total utility was shown to fail to explain exchange-values, a recourse to marginal utility was made. In other words, in terms of utility, water has far more, because it is necessary for life, and yet water has little or no exchange-value, whereas diamonds have a great deal of exchange-value. The subjectivists, therefore, responded that because water is in abundant supply, and people have a lot of it, that they already consume, each additional glass of water for them has very little utility. But, that is really to explain the low price of water by the low price of water. People only already consume a lot of water because its price is low, enabling them to buy and consume lots of it. Put another way, they could have lots of water, because the labour required to obtain it, is very low, whereas the labour required to obtain diamonds is very great. There is, in fact, lots of gold on Planet Earth, in sea water, but the labour require to extract it, is very considerable. There is thought to be an exo-planet where diamonds exist in profusion. It's not the abundance of these things that determines their price, and the extent to which they can then be owned, but the cost of producing them. 

Relative value means first of all magnitude of value in contradistinction to the quality of having value at all. For this reason, the latter is not something absolute. It means, secondly, the value of one commodity expressed in the use-value of another commodity. This is only a relative expression of its value, namely, in relation to the commodity in which it is expressed. The value of a pound of coffee is only relatively expressed in tea; to express it absolutely—even in a relative way, that is to say, not in regard to labour-time, but to other commodities—it ought to be expressed in an infinite series of equations with all other commodities. This would be an absolute expression of its relative value; its absolute expression would be its expression in terms of labour-time and this absolute expression would express it as something relative, but in the absolute relation, by which it is value.” (p 132-3) 

Northern Soul Classics - She'll Come Running Back - Mel Britt

Friday, 22 February 2019

Friday Night Disco - Nowhere To Run - Isley Brothers

An excellent warm up for tonight's dancing at Moorville Hall.

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Chapter 20 - Part 63

It may be the case that 10 hours of carpenter's labour exchanges for 20 hours of tailor's labour, but as soon as commodities have their values expressed indirectly, as exchange-values, in the shape of some money-commodity, the labour contained in them is automatically converted from a quantity of concrete labour to a quantity abstract labour. The money commodity itself represents a quantity not of concrete labour, but of abstract labour, or more correctly, the concrete labour required for the production of the money-commodity becomes the proxy for abstract labour. The 10 hours of concrete carpenter's labour, as complex labour, thereby becomes transformed into 20 hours of abstract labour, so that it exchanges on an equal basis with the 20 hours of abstract labour represented by the tailor's product

Ricardo, because he has an embodied labour theory of value, “is concerned only with the magnitude of value”. (p 131) He fails, therefore, to distinguish between the concrete labour embodied within the commodity, and the abstract labour that the commodity actually represents. Any commodity can have a nominal price, which is its value expressed as an amount of money, but, it is only when it is actually sold that the amount of socially necessary labour it represents can be known. The chair produced by Chippendale may have taken only the same amount of labour to produce as a chair produced by Bodgit and Sons, but the amount of abstract socially necessary labour that each represents is only known when both chairs are sold, and an amount of money is given in exchange. And, the same is true in relation to the price actually obtained from the sale of a chair as opposed to the sale of a coat. Moreover, as Marx sets out in Capital III, not only is the quantity of abstract labour subject to validation in the act of exchange, on the above basis, but it also depends upon whether the total supply of such commodities, to the market, finds an adequate level of demand at the market value. Speaking of Ricardo, Marx says, 

“Consequently his attention is concentrated on the relative quantities of labour which the different commodities represent, or which the commodities as values embody. But the labour embodied in them must be represented as social labour, as alienated individual labour. In the price this representation is nominal; it becomes reality only in the sale. This transformation of the labour of private individuals contained in the commodities into uniform social labour, consequently into labour which can be expressed in all use-values and can be exchanged for them, this qualitative aspect of the matter which is contained in the representation of exchange-value as money, is not elaborated by Ricardo. This circumstance—the necessity of presenting the labour contained in commodities as uniform social labour, i.e., as money—is overlooked by Ricardo.” (p 131) 

Capital itself presupposes not only that commodity production and exchange has led to the value of products taking the form of the exchange value of commodities, but that it has led to the development of money, as the general commodity, the universal equivalent form of value. Only money provides the basis upon which to put a rational numerical value upon that initial quantity of wealth, and thereby to determine the extent, and the proportion by which that wealth has expanded, i.e. to determine the amount of capital advanced, the amount of profit produced, and thereby the rate of profit. And, money enables this rational measurement to be undertaken, no matter what physical changes of form the capital value might assume. Money enables a numerical figure to be put on the seed, as well as the plough used as constant capital, by the farmer, just as well as it enables a similar numerical figure to be put on the wages of the agricultural worker.
All of these different commodities that comprise the productive-capital can be reduced to their monetary equivalent, not as their historical price, but as merely the money equivalent of their value, i.e. their current reproduction cost. And, when that production is complete, and a completely different set of commodities/use values arise out of it, they too can be reduced to their monetary equivalent, so that the capital value of this commodity-capital can be compared with the capital value of the productive-capital consumed in its production, and which must be reproduced out of it. And, when the commodities that comprise the commodity-capital are actually sold, the resultant capital value of the money-capital can likewise be compared and measured against the value of the commodity-capital, and the productive-capital, and can likewise be compared with the capital value that must once more be advanced in order to continue production on the same scale. 

“The relation between the value antecedent to production and the value which results from it—capital as antecedent value is capital in contrast to profit—constitutes the all-embracing and decisive factor in the whole process of capitalist production. It is not only an independent expression of value as in money, but dynamic value, value which maintains itself in a process in which use-values pass through the most varied forms. Thus in capital the independent existence of value is raised to a higher power than in money.” (p 131) 

Thursday, 21 February 2019

The Hopium Wars

The unprincipled basis upon which Hopium's Eleven have come together was illustrated in the press conference they held yesterday.  The lack of principle of MP's, who claim to represent the silent majority of voters, the mythical centre ground of politics, of people who have been longing for a party to vote for, as opposed to Tory or Labour, but who themselves deny them that right, by failing to stand down from their seats, and put their claims to the test, in a by-election, is obvious.  But, more than that what the press conference showed is that, in addition to all of this paternalistic, hypocritical hogwash, there is no principled basis for these different MP's to have come together at all, outside the fact that they all oppose Brexit, and, more importantly, they are all facing being kicked out by their own local party members!

Anna Soubry, was asked whether she defended the actions of the coalition government of 2010-2015, of which she was a part.  Of course, she did, including all of the austerity measures that Osborn pushed through, and including all of those attacks on welfare that even her Tory colleague, Heidi Allen, has made a cause out of opposing.  It would, of course, be easier for Uncle Vince Cable's Liberals to justify a hook up with Soubry's support for Tory austerity, than for the Labour MP's, like Umunna, because Cable also sat in that coalition government, carrying out all of those drastic austerity measures, even though, prior to the formation of the coalition, Liberals had been, rightly, saying that, not only was the austerity not necessary, but that it was economic lunacy, in the face of the need for the economic recovery that was underway under Labour, to have taken hold.

Of course, in reality, the right-wing Labour MP's like Chris Leslie, and Angela Smith, have not, themselves, been marked by their hostility to Tory austerity measures either, or for their opposition to the privatisation of things like water supply.   It's not that these right-wing Labour politicians, in practice, hold positions that are, ideologically a million miles from those of the Tories - they don't, which is the characteristic of the conservative social democracy (neoliberalism) that dominated the period from the 1980's to 2008.  It is that, presentationally, that shared ideology required two parties to advocate it, each branding the same ideas in different boxes, like the same soap powder simply put into differently boxes, aimed at different segments of the market.  It required that actual differences, over substance, be replaced by differences over presentation, and beauty contests between different political celebrities.  Once those political personalities are forced into the same soap powder box, the illusion is shattered.  

The Labour splinter within the new formation cannot now continue to present itself as, in some way, "anti-austerity", on the old basis of hiding a shared political stance, by nuance that vanishes to infinity, or by a clash of personality, because that would mean a clash of personality within the same organisation, one of whose main features is being presented as that of being all sweetness and light, of "shared values", though no one knows what they are, beyond motherhood and apple pie, in place of the actual political ideas and policies that are required to put any values into practice.  Challenged on TV, Soubry claimed that one of these values was "sound economic policy", as though any politician is going to go on TV and say, "we are forming this new party on the basis of our values, which includes the implementation of unsound economic policy." 

As soon as the question of what this value of "sound economic policy" is raised, then we find that for Soubry, it means the implementation of the kind of Tory austerity, seen over the last 9 years, that first sent the economy into an unnecessary recession, followed by stagnation, and which imposed severe, hardship on millions of people.  Umunna and the rest might not, in practice, disagree with that, these are after all, the same Blair-right MP's, who refused to oppose the Tories £12 billion of welfare cuts, but who, in order to retain votes, have to not shout about it from the rooftops.

Their politics, like that of the Liberals, and of the Blair-rights still inside the Labour Party, is based upon Hopium.  It is based upon the hope that the world could be different, and that somehow it will be different, and return to the world they enjoyed for the previous thirty years.  It is a hope based upon delusion.  Hopium.  It is a delusion based upon the idea that there is some huge centre-ground of politics out there waiting to flock to their door.  Yet, they are not so confident in its existence that they are willing to stand down from parliament, and test that belief in by-elections.  Every week, local party members, should be out campaigning in the seats of these MP's, presenting their new candidates, and demanding that the old MP's stand down, now that they have no mandate to hold on to their seats.

The fact is that this mythical centre ground does not exist, the material conditions for its existence collapsed with the financial crisis of 2008, which showed that the thirty year period when asset prices could be simply inflated, by the state printing money, and encouraging people to engage in gambling on stock and property markets, had come to an end.  It has been continued in the last ten years, only at enormous cost to the real economy, and has only made inevitable an even bigger crash in financial and property markets.  Conservative social-democracy (neoliberalism) was itself a delusional economic model based upon the idea that ever rising asset prices could be used as the basis for extracting revenues as taxes, or to finance consumption by individuals, by borrowing in place of wages, rather than that ultimately, revenues can only be increased by creating new value, which means an expansion of capital, and the employment, thereby of additional labour.

Rather than there being some huge reservoir of voters aching for some political party to emerge to which they could give their support, the emergence of Hopium's Eleven only demonstrates the opposite.  It shows that the centre ground of politics is already full of parties seeking a diminishing number of votes in that sphere.  Where the SDP quickly was scoring 45% in opinion polls, the current splinter is scoring only 14%, and much of that seems to have come from the Liberals, and other existing centrist parties.  No wonder then that Hopium's Eleven, have rejected the idea of joining up with the Liberals, whose own politics is based upon Hopium, instead, in typically arrogant and paternalistic fashion, demanding that Liberals come and join them!  The lack of any real voter base in that centre ground, means that the centrists will have to fight ever more intensely between themselves to grab it.  Already, the emergence of Hopium's Eleven has caused that other centrist party, based upon Hopium, the Greens, to fracture, with its Liberal wing seeing the new group as a positive development, and its more radical wing decrying it.  As these Hopium Wars between the various centrist parties intensify, expect to see these groupings themselves be the ones that fracture, more than the Labour and Tory parties, as the centrists simply rearrange the deckchairs on the Titanic.

Hatton's Suspension Is A Disgrace

I had little time for Derek Hatton or the Militant back in the 1980's.  I have no more time for him now.  But, his suspension from LP membership, again, is a disgrace.  Once again, it is an indication of the spineless nature of Corbyn's leadership.  The Tory media shouted repeatedly about Hatton, being allowed back into the LP, echoed by the same right-wing, Blair-right MP's that are doing all in their power to undermine Corbyn and the Labour Party, and Corbyn's leadership again caved.  The Tory media and the Blair-rights shouted "Jump!", and Corbyn leadership responded, "Yes, sir, how high sir?"

In the 1980's, the sectarian politics of the Militant contributed to the isolation of Liverpool City Council, which Hatton led, as it fought the Tory cuts being imposed by Thatcher's government.  That sectarianism, and the disastrous tactics of Militant, which failed to link up that struggle with the struggle of other Councils that Militant supporters did not lead, such as Lambeth, and more disastrously with the struggle of the NUM against pit closures, ensured that eventually the struggle would be lost.  Yet, socialists had a duty to support the struggle that was being waged by Liverpool councillors, despite the sectarianism and disastrous tactics being employed by Militant and Hatton.  When all was said and done, they were engaged in a struggle in defence of working-class interests against a Tory government.  Socialists could no more disown that struggle, because of Militant's sectarianism and poor tactics than they could disown support for a strike, simply on the basis that it was being led badly.

For all the deficiencies of Hatton and of Militant they were engaged in a struggle for working-class interests.  It was the likes of Kinnock that sought to undermine that struggle, by complaining that socialists, as they have done over the centuries, were being forced to act outside the law, a fact that offended the bourgeois sensibilities of the windbag.  Although Kinnock complained about the City Council sending out redundancy notices to its employees by taxi - which was part of a typically stupid and opaque tactic employed by Militant to try to extend the struggle - the reality was that Kinnock was in favour of all Labour Councils not just sending out redundancy notices as part of a tactic, but of actually sacking their workers, so as to stay within the law, and comply with the Tory cuts, abandoning any actual struggle, in favour of waiting for him, and a Labour government to come to their rescue at the next General Election, a General Election, which in any case he lost!  It was, in fact, only after the working-class again engaged in a massive campaign of law breaking, in defiance of the Poll Tax, that Thatcher was driven from office, creating the conditions for the Tories themselves to be thrown out of government in 1997.

And, within weeks of his typically hysterical, and hypocritical attacks on Liverpool City Council ove the issuing of redundancy notices, it was the Labour Party itself that was issuing redundancy notices to its own staff!

The expulsions of members of Militant and other left wing activists from the Labour Party, again facilitated by the sectarianism of Militant, which refused to join up with other socialists to fight the witch-hunt, was a disgrace.  It was an expulsion of the most active, the most dedicated members of the Labour Party, by those that had lost the battle of ideas, as they continually failed to fight against the Tory onslaught, be it against Tory cuts to Local Government, or their failure to fully back the Miners during the 1984-5 strike.  The basis of the expulsions of forming a party within a party were totally spurious, given that the Labour Party had been formed by a combination of separate parties, be it the ILP, or the SDF (which became the British Socialist Party, and then changed its name to the British Communist Part), or later the affiliation of the Co-operative Party.  And, the Labour Party had always had within it various factions, all of which be they on the right or Left had their own publications, and organisation for the publication and distribution of those publications.  The expulsions had nothing to do with these groups being parties within the LP - none of them, for example stood candidates in elections against Labour, or supported candidates of other parties against Labour, which many on the right certainly did, when the SDP was formed - but were a typical bureaucratic measure used by the party machinery to bolster the position of the Labour Right, whose role had always been to ensure that the Labour Party was constrained within safe bourgeois limits that did not seriously challenge the power of capital.

That Corbyn's Labour Party is returning to those same bureaucratic, right-wing measures that characterised the party under Kinnock is a disgrace, and yet a further sign of the way the right have captured Corbyn, and his entourage, though given the predominance of Stalinists within his inner circle, that they should adopt such bureaucratic measures is not entirely surprising either.  It is an indication of what the left in the rank and file of the party can expect in coming months.  The sectarian politics of the Stalinists advising Corbyn, is facilitating him being isolated from that rank and file, thereby aiding and abetting the Right of the Party, something that has been seen time and again in the tactics of Stalinists, for example, the murder of Vietnamese Trotskyists by Stalinists, the murder of Spanish Trotskyists and POUMists, by Stalinists in the 1930's, as the Stalinists forged their disastrous Popular Front with the Spanish bourgeois parties.

And, as with those previous disastrous applications of the Popular Front, and of appeasement of the right, what has it achieved for Corbyn?  It has meant that the strength of the Right in parliament has continued to be able to isolate and undermine his position.  It has meant that they have been able to choose the time and nature of the attacks they launch against him.  It has meant that Corbyn has continually had to abandon the very principles upon which he was elected Leader, whether it is his republicanism, his anti-imperialism, his support for democratic accountability within the party, his anti-racism, or his attraction to many as a person of principle.

The success of the Right is shown by the fact that Corbyn, whose parents met opposing Mosely's fascists in Cable Street, and who is best known as a fighter of all forms of racism and bigotry, is now branded as a racist and anti-Semite in the minds of large numbers of voters.  Thousands voted for Corbyn as leader, and voted for his Labour party, in 2017, because he was seen as different to previous Labour Leaders, because of being a man of principle, but no longer.  On every issue, he has been seen to abandon those principles, so as to appease the Right, who simply then come back for even more.

Hatton has applied for membership several times over the years.  In the last few years, he has been accepted, only for that acceptance to be withdrawn, as the Tory media jumped up and down, and showed that they have great influence on determining what happens inside the Labour Party.  Hatton clearly could not be denied membership on the basis of membership of Militant, because it no longer exists, having become the Socialist Party.  Nor could he be denied membership for being a member of the Socialist Party, because he never has been, and nor has he supported their candidates against Labour in elections.  In fact, even if that were the case, it really is not a reason for denying hm membership.  Former Labour Chancellor, Denis Healey, for example, had been a member of the Communist Party, before he joined Labour.  The right-wing Labour MP, in Stoke North, prior to Joan Walley, John Forrester, had also been a member of the Communist Party.  But, in more recent times, Labour accepted with open arms the defecting Tory MP, Sean Woodward, and even made him into a Minister!  Gordon Brown similarly made the horrible right-wing businessman Digby Jones into a Minister, though Jones himself boasts that Labour put him in this position, even though he did not even bother to take out membership of the Labour Party.

It was clearly difficult for Labour to find any excuse to suspend Hatton's membership on the grounds of being a member of or supporting some other party, but faced with their obsessive need to continually appease the Tory media, they had to find something, and so they dragged out a tweet from seven years ago, and used it to claim that it was "anti-Semitic".    All those that insisted on all of the examples of anti-Semitism attached to the IHRA definition, to be included in Labour's definition, and code of conduct, claimed that it would not prevent criticism of the state of Israel, but it was obvious that the reason they insisted that all these examples be included, was precisely that it meant that criticism of the actions of the state of Israel could be claimed to be anti-Semitic.  That is what has happened here, as Hatton criticised the actions of the Israeli government, and encouraged all British Jews to condemn them.  This latter point, it is being claimed, is "anti-Semitic" because its implies that all Jews are responsible for the actions of the Israeli state.  What arrant nonsense.  If Britain were to wage a vicious war against another country, would not socialists call on all British people to condemn that action, wherever those British people lived, and would do so, because it makes far more impact if British people condemn the actions of the British state than if, for example, French people were to condemn the British state!  Moreover, the Zionists, themselves make the same commitment, by claiming that Jews wherever they are in the world are citizens of Israel, with a right to migrate their over and above the rights of the existing, non-Jewish citizens of Israel.  They encourage such a view, by claiming that Israel is not an Israeli state, with equal rights for all citizens, but is specifically a "Jewish" state.

But, even if it were the case that Harron's statement could be construed as meaning that all Jews are somehow responsible for the actions of the Jewish state, as opposed to being simply a statement calling for a mobilisation of public opinion, and most effectively Jewish public opinion, against the actions of Israel, is that really what most people would consider to constitute "anti-Semitism"?  I don't think so, and if Labour party members are to be suspended, for making statements that somebody somewhere, might, for whatever reason, take offence to,  then the Labour Party will indeed find itself not dealing with just 600 complaints, but an endless stream, as would any other organisation.

But, the charge of anti-Semitism against Hatton is totally spurious.  It was simply a convenient excuse to suspend his membership, as the leadership once again, collapsed into a jelly like substance squirming on the ground, as soon as the tory media, and the Labour Right confronted it.  It is rather like all of those expulsions of Jewish members of the Labour Party, initially charged with "anti-Semitism", that then had to be changed to other trumped up charges, such as the catch-all "bringing the party into disrepute", when it was obvious that the initial accusations had absolutely no substance. 

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Chapter 20 - Part 62

In early exchanges, as products became commodities, and value becomes manifest as exchange-value, the measurement of labour-time may be less precise. Some accounts indicate that little or no account of the different types of concrete labour was taken into consideration. But, as trade expands, and the range of products from different types of concrete labour being exchanged expands, along with it, these differences between different types of concrete labour become more significant. 

Take two tailors, who take their coats to market. Assuming both have paid the same amount for the cloth they use etc., both may expend the same amount of their own labour-time in the production of these coats. But, one tailor may have a greater skill than the other, which is apparent in the quality of their product. Or, one may have a greater flare for design etc. As a consequence, although both tailors have embodied equal amounts of concrete labour into the coats they take to market, there will be a greater demand for the products of the tailor that has greater skill or design flare. Buyers will be prepared to exchange more of their own commodities, for those products, than they will for that of the other tailor. 

And, it will not only be these differences between producers of the same types of commodity that will become apparent. Especially when merchants undertake the role of taking all these different commodities to market, it will become increasingly apparent that, although, say, 10 hours have been expended producing a coat, and the same amount of time has been spent producing a table, in the market, 2 coats exchange for 1 table, so that the merchant realises that the carpenter's labour creates twice as much value as tailor's labour, per hour. The multiplicity of exchanges, in the market, in practice, itself, thereby, reduces the actual amount of concrete labour expended, to a common uniform level of abstract labour. The value of any commodity is then no longer defined by the actual concrete labour embodied within it, but by the amount of this abstract, average, socially necessary labour it represents, as defined by the market. 

Money is nothing more than a claim to a quantity of this average abstract, social labour. It is merely a physical embodiment of this claim. As such, it does not matter whether this claim takes the form of an actual commodity, which is itself the embodiment of this same quantity of abstract labour-time (such as a cow, or a gram of gold) or whether it takes the form of a token or certificate, which asserts the right of the owner to such a claim. In other words, if a 1 gram gold coin, which we might give the name €1, is equal to 10 hours of this abstract labour-time, it gives the owner the right to exchange this coin for any commodity, or amount of commodities that also represent an equal amount of value. But, in theory, it would be all the same if instead of these gold coins, there circulated tokens, which asserted the right of the owner to exchange them for commodities with a value of 10 hours of abstract labour. The difference arises only in practice, to the extent to which the owners of commodities are prepared to accept such tokens, rather than demanding a commodity that itself possesses that amount of value. It is inevitable, therefore, that money, initially takes the form of a money-commodity, as opposed to money tokens, or credit money

“The representation of the commodity as money implies not only that the different magnitudes of commodity values are measured by expressing the values in the use-value of one exclusive commodity, but at the same time that they are all expressed in a form in which they exist as the embodiment of social labour and are therefore exchangeable for every other commodity, that they are translatable at will into any use-value desired. Their representation as money—in the price—therefore appears first only as something nominal, a representation which is realised only through actual sale.” (p 130-1) 

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Hopium's Eleven

The Misfortunate 7 from Monday, have now become Hopium's Eleven.  Labour's Joan Ryan as with the other defectors jumped before she was pushed by her CLP members.  She has covered her tracks with the similar slurry of unsubstantiated accusations about anti-Semitism, which actually comes down to the fact that others in the Labour Party do not share her love of the state of Israel, and failure to criticise it for its appalling treatment of Palestinians, its continued theft of Palestinian lands in the West Bank, and illegal building of settlements that make her professed claims to be a supporter of a two-state solution ring completely hollow.  Now, this hapless bunch have been joined by three equally hapless Tories, who have similarly jumped before they were pushed, as their Tory Associations swing behind the hard right Brextremist positions of the ERG, which reflects the fact that 80% of Tory voters back a No Deal Brexit.  The reality is that none of these 11 MP's from either party have anything of substance behind them.  Their actions and ambitions are nothing more than a pipe dream, and delusion that acts as nothing more than a means of relieving their pain and anguish that the world is not what they want it to be, and a hope that it will somehow turn out to be different.  It is nothing more than Hopium.

Ryan on Sky's Politics Live, today, claimed that anti-Semitism is something that has only occurred in the LP since Jeremy Corbyn became Leader in 2015.  That, of course, is absolute nonsense, and unfortunately for her, only minutes before, on the same programme, that other Friend of Israel, John Mann, had contradicted her, saying that he had been fighting anti-Semitism in the Labour Party for 16 years!  This hapless bunch can't even get their smear stories straight, as they approach a scattergun approach of simply throwing as much shit in the direction of Corbyn and the Labour Party as possible.  Mann, also claimed that LP members were leaving in large numbers because of anti-Semitism, but the ruth is that its not anti-Semitism causing members to leave the party, but Corbyn's failure to take an active anti-Brexit stance.  Yet, Mann hold an even more right-wing pro-Brexit position than Corbyn!

The line of attack against Corbyn and the LP over anti-Semitism shows just why the Blair-rights and their Zionist supporters sought so desperately to get Corbyn to capitulate over the addition of all the IHRA examples to the definition of anti-Semitism that the party had already adopted.  It is that, by adding the internationally disputes examples on the nature of Zionism, and criticism of the foundation of the Israeli state, it effectively makes it impossible to criticise Zionism as a nationalist ideology, or to criticise the history of the establishment of the state of Israel, as a colonial, racist endeavour, without being accused of also being anti-Semitic.  It conflates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, which in the process, thereby, undermines the struggle against anti-Semitism, because no decent socialist, or even consistent liberal democrat can fail to recognise that Zionism is a nationalist ideology, and a colonialist, expansionist ideology, or that the state of Israel was established by an act of extreme violence that was racially based, and which expelled 75,000 Palestinians from their homes and land, in order that it could be taken over by Jewish settlers.

Denying that fact is as deceitful as denying that thousands of Native Americans were killed and dispossessed of their lands by European settlers and colonists, or that the same thing happened with the genocide against Australian aborigines, and so on.  It is not recognition of that historical reality that is anti-Semitic, but the fact that some go from this recognition of historical fact to then demand that Israel be treated differently to the way the US or Australia, or Canada, or New Zealand and so on are treated.  No rational person demands that the above be destroyed, because they were created by acts of violence and genocide, as racist settler states, and yet some do make that demand in relation to Israel.  It is that, which is the basis of left-wing anti-Semitism.

But, the Zionists essentially want to wipe from history the facts about the creation of the Israeli state, as well as effectively denying the reality that the Israeli state today acts as a racist, confessional state, that oppresses Arabs living within its borders, institutionally discriminates in favour of Jews wherever they currently live in the world, as against non-Jewish Israelis, and permanently acts as an armed power, standing in an agressive, expansion stance towards its Arab neighbours, and particularly in relation to the Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank, which it again systematically deprives of the right of the statehood it demands for itself.

It is the fact that Corbyn has repeatedly drawn attention to those facts that the Labour Friends of Israel despise, and mischaracterise a anti-Semitism, although Corbyn himself has not helped in that respect, with his ambivalent relation to reactionary, and actually anti-semitic organisations such as Hamas and Hezbollah.  It is no wonder that, as the undercover Al Jazeera investigation illustrated, the Israeli state has sought to use whatever influence it might be able to mount to undermine Corbyn, and those in Britain that have highlighted the plight of the Palestinians, and the racist nature of the Israeli state, particularly under the corrupt, Bonapartist regime of Netanyahu.  I have no time for the grotesque George Galloway, but he was right, when he pointed out to Sky news that if they had video evidence of Corbyn talking to representatives of Putin's Russia, they would play it on a loop all day long, so as to undermine him, and yet, they have failed to even show once, the evidence from Al Jazeera of Israeli Embassy officials offering £1 million to MP's to undermine Corbyn.

Ryan, who is being retained as Chair of Labour Friends of Israel, despite now openly betraying the party, claims that any suggestion that Zionist MP's have any connection to Israel, or to its officials is false.  Yet, a simple check on the facts shows that not to be true.  A look at a number of the Labour proponents of Israel, shows their connection to, BICOM, for example, whose team includes various people who formerly held position in the Israeli state.  If this was Corbyn's supporters, whose organisation was filled with people who formerly worked for the Russian Embassy, the Daily mail, the BBC and Sky would run the story endlessly with all of the associated innuendo, and every few months, they would run the story again, for good measure.

To point to these connections is not to say that the whole opposition to Corbyn is based upon some Zionist conspiracy.  That would, indeed be to step into the realms of the Protocols of Zion, and actual anti-Semitism, but any sensible person will likewise treat with skepticism the idea that the Jewish state does not try to undermine opposition to it, just as the british state attempts to do whatever it can to undermine opposition to the british state, the Russian state does what it can to undermine opposition to the Russian state and so on.  Those states would be failing in their responsibilities as states if they didn't do that.  And, likewise, it would be highly unusual if there were not some British MP's that did not act as willing agents of the Israeli state, just as their have been British MP's in the past that acted as willing agents of Moscow, or in the 1930's of Berlin.

Not all opponents of Corbyn do so because they are Zionists and certainly not because they are in some John le Carre sense simply fifth columnists acting on behalf of a foreign Israeli power.  The majority of opponents of Corbyn in the PLP are Blair-rights, for whom anti-Semitism, like "bullying" is a convenient, amorphous label to throw at him that can be used without have any real evidence to support it, but which keeps the party leadership tied up endlessly trying to respond to the accusations.  The Blair-rights would drop the anti-Semitism meme at the drop of a hat, if it suited them to do so.  They are simply using Jews as useful idiots as a battering ram to attack Corbyn, given that ideologically they are bankrupt.

And, a similar story applies in relation to the Tories that have now joined the Misforunate 7, to create Hopium's Eleven.  They do not have the anti-Semitism meme to play off, though there is undoubtedly far more actual anti-Semitism, not to mention outright racism of all sorts, in the Tory Party than in the Labour Party.  But, they still churn out the same tired mantra that they have remained the same, have retained their values - again equally invisible to sight as those of the Misfortunate 7 - whilst it is their party that has changed - what even since they stood, and were elected on those party manifestos less than 2 years ago?  And, it is that which these splinters use as their fig leaf of justification for not doing the principled and honest thing of standing down from their seats, and testing their ideas in a By Election.  They will not do that, because listening to Larry, Curly and Moe, today they had even less conviction in their words than did their Labour stooges on Monday.

They know their venture is doomed.  They know that even if they pull a few more disgruntled, soon to be deselected MP's their way in the coming days, which they will continually drip feed, so as to keep control of the newsflow, they have no chance of forming a majority in parliament, and will be decimated come the next election.  Their main function will be,as with the SDP, in the 1980's, to split the anti-Tory vote, and thereby to enable Theresa May, and whichever, Brextremist the Tories select to replace her, to win that election.  Given the fact that Corbyn has failed to position Labour as the clear anti-Brexit pole of attraction to the now hard Brexit Tories, the anti-Tory forces are already fractured, and splintering into smithereens, whilst the Tories are hardening around their core No Deal support, which accounts for 80% of Tory voters.  The Tory Remainers, were on their way out anyway.  They have only made the calculation for May that much easier.  It means she could lose a No Confidence Vote in parliament, and with no desire to risk another referendum, the days are growing fewer to when she calls a General Election to get a majority to push through a managed no deal Brexit.

Corbyn's disastrous strategy of appeasement to the Blair-rights, over the last three years, and his disastrous, reactionary adoption of Stalinist economic nationalism in defence of Brexit, means that Labour is set to lose votes and seats badly in that election, and so will end in ignominy the latest attempt to build a progressive social-democratic Labour Party.  Hopium's Eleven, and those MP's facing deselection that join them over the coming days, have no chance of forming anything stable and sustainable, but as the SDP showed, they can certainly prevent Labour having any chance of winning, and in Scotland Labour's disastrous stance is going to see them fall even further behind the SNP and Tories, at a time when it should have been enjoying a strong recovery.  Once again the reactionary ideology of Stalinism, along with its disastrous, bureaucratic and manoeuvring methodology will have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, with terrible consequences for the working-class.